#ThrowbackThursday: Loving v. Virginia, 1967

Mildred and Richard Loving (The New York Times)

Mildred and Richard Loving (The New York Times)

Virginia newlyweds Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested shortly after their wedding in 1958. The reason? As Life magazine would later put it, “the crime of being married.”

The Lovings had violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which banned interracial relationships and marriage. The couple avoided prison time be agreeing to leave Virginia and not come back for 25 years.

In 1964, the couple took their case to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Racial Integrity Act was unconstitutional. The decision made states’ anti-miscegenation laws unenforceable (though many of the laws remained on the books for years later).

Today, nearly 50 years later, the Loving v. Virginia case continues to resonate. In 2015, the decision was cited in Obergefell v. Hodges in arguments in favor of marriage equality to the case’s success. A documentary “The Loving Story” was released in 2011, and “Loving” was released in 2016 with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the historic couple.

 

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Trends: Historic Interracial Couples on Film

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in 'Loving' (Evening Standard)

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in ‘Loving’ (Evening Standard)

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the conversation around movies in Hollywood centered around the fact that there was no diversity. #OscarsSoWhite gained prominence during the national conversation. It seems the entertainment industry listened, because movies with diverse casts and themes will be released. Even better, a couple of movies will tell stories from history that need to be more widely known than they are.

The story of Virginia couple Mildred and Richard Loving are featured in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Mildred, a Black woman (played by Ruth Negga), and Richard (Joel Edgerton), a white man, were arrested in 1958 for the crime of being married when interracial marriage was a crime. The Lovings’ ordeal to have their union be legally recognized led to the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case in 1967. The ruling struck down every anti-miscegenation law still on the books in 16 Southern states. (At least in theory; several states still tried to unofficially enforce the law.)

Too few people know this story, and I’m glad it’s gaining more recognition. The case is seen as a landmark in the struggle for civil rights, and can be regarded as the spiritual predecessor to the recent marriage equality fight and decision.

Loving isn’t the only historic interracial love story debuting this winter. Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom focuses on the story of Sir Seretse Khama (played by David Oyelowo), a member of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s royal family, and Ruth Williams (played by Rosamund Pike), an English woman and Khama’s eventual wife. The Khamas’ romance and eventual marriage set off an international scandal which took years to rectify.

Director Asante’s previous feature was Belle, the true story of a mixed-race English woman in the 18th century. I enjoyed it, particularly because it was something I hadn’t seen before: a woman of color in a period costume drama. Asante won my attention and my dollars with that film, so I’m curious to see her new one as well.

Loving will be released on Nov. 4th, and A United Kingdom will be released Jan. 17, 2017.

 

#ThrowbackThursday: “The Loving Story,” 2011

Richard and Mildred Loving, 'The Loving Story' (Documentary Daze)

Richard and Mildred Loving, ‘The Loving Story’ (Documentary Daze)

Documentary “The Loving Story” was released in 2011, and examined the lives of Richard and Mildred Loving. An interracial couple from Virginia, they were arrested for violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law shortly after their wedding in 1958. The film examines their struggle to remain married and able to live in Virginia, which led to the historic Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision of 1967.

The film was directed by Nancy Buirski, premiered in 2012, and won a Peabody Award.

“Loving” Film Releases Interracial Emoji Couples

Love-Moji ('Glamour' en Espanol)

Love-Moji (‘Glamour’ en Espanol)

Given our current obsession with all things tech, Focus Features has found a fitting way to promote the company’s upcoming film “Loving:” custom emojis.

The Love-Mojis feature a variety of emojis of interracial couples in about every combination you could think of. So if you’re in an interracial couple, and you haven’t yet felt your coupling properly represented by the Unicode Consortium, your time has finally come!

Why is this important? Let’s start with the film itself: “Loving” follows Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia couple who got married in 1958. This wouldn’t be so remarkable except that Richard was white and Mildred was black. Their marriage happened during a time where interracial dating, much less marriage, was frowned upon, to put it lightly. Interracial marriage could bring a charge of miscegenation (race mixing, in plain terms).

The Lovings were arrested after their marriage for the crime of their relationship, and forced to leave Virginia. Once in D.C., they began legal proceedings. The Loving v. Virginia case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, which struck down said laws that were on the books of sixteen states. (All sixteen states were in the South. Shocker.)

Needless to say, this was a landmark case.

But why use emojis to promote it?

Since emojis debuted, the options for emoji couples were pretty stark. They didn’t show the breadth of real-life relationships in terms of race and also sexual preference. The new Love-Moji take this into account, and rectify the oversight.

There’s also the fact that using emojis has become a convenient visual shorthand for emotions we don’t particularly feel like typing out in words.

You can get the Love-Moji via app stores and at VoteLoving.com.

“Loving” comes out on Friday, Nov. 4th.